The All-Star spending bonanza starts today — at least that's what Minneapolis and Major League Baseball hope.
Baseball takes over Minneapolis the next five days with events throughout the city and plenty of merchandise, some of it authentic, some not. At the Minneapolis Convention Center, booths are filled with baseball stuff.
Hundreds of merchants from all over the country are preparing to sell to thousands of visitors over the five day FanFest, the merchandising arm of the All-Star Game Week. Crates of merchandise were hauled in, unpacked and shelved on Thursday for today's opening. The city could see an economic impact of $75 million during All-Star Game week, according to Meet Minneapolis, the city's convention and visitors bureau.
Major League Baseball has gone to great lengths to make sure what's being sold there and around Minneapolis, is official. Its reach this week extends well beyond Target Field.
Minneapolis officials agreed to give MLB veto power over who would get temporary permits in certain sections of the city, including most of downtown, northeast Minneapolis and a few blocks around TCF Stadium.
Officials, however, won't break down any of their projected sales numbers. Major League Baseball did not respond to requests for interviews. MLB's deal with Meet Minneapolis for the convention center is private, a city spokesman said.
"I can't give you specific numbers but our downtown is very busy, not just hotels, but restaurants, retail. I think you're going to see a great deal of activity here," said Melvin Tennant, CEO of Meet Minneapolis.
The city says one merchant applied for a temporary permit. The company, which sells MLB-licensed merchandise, was granted approval to sell at two outdoor sites and to set up inside six hotel lobbies within the downtown area.
"In certain major events here and across the country there's been a lot more ambush marketing," said Grant Wilson, the city's licensing manager who reviewed the applications. "We might see some of that, where somebody will put a couple pallet-loads of their product on the sidewalk and start passing out stuff — just not an orderly way to do business," he added.
The only permit Wilson expects to deny is from an apartment building next to Target Field that wanted a live band playing on top of the building during Monday's home run derby.
While MLB's keeping a close watch on the merchandise you buy, it's less interested in what you eat outside the ballpark. Food trucks, a common sight on Minneapolis streets, can sell their wares.
Still, some vendors will feel frustrated. They won't be allowed on the streets closed during the festivities. That'll be particularly tough during the All-Star Game parade Tuesday, when the city will shut down Marquette Avenue, a main street for many food trucks.
"It's one of 70 days we get when it's really good business," Orlando Villegas, owner of the Chilean food truck Emconada, said of the short season for outdoor food. "Taking that away? It will affect some people."
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported St. Anthony Main was among the Minneapolis neighborhoods where MLB has veto power over vendors during All-Star Game week.